For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for Veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART XIII: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING MESOTHELIOMA SYMPTOMS
It’s extremely important for those with known past asbestos exposure to seek a medical evaluation immediately if experiencing any mesothelioma symptoms. These may include shortness of breath, chest pain and a persistent dry cough of wheezing. Those at risk should know how to recognize the warning signs of mesothelioma and should also consider talking to their physician about routine screenings, which may even be available at no cost.
Talking to Your Doctor About Mesothelioma Symptoms
It is imperative that you make an appointment for a physical as soon symptoms are noticed. Before your appointment, it is advisable to write down some key information, such as when the symptoms started and how long they’ve lasted. You’ll need to share this information with your doctor, along with any details of past asbestos exposure.
Because mesothelioma symptoms closely resemble symptoms of other, non-life-threatening conditions, making sure your doctor is aware that you are in the high-risk group for the disease-those who have been exposed to asbestos-will ensure that your concerns and your symptoms are taken seriously. This is key to avoiding a misdiagnosis, which is very common among mesothelioma victims.
Mesothelioma Screenings and Veteran Eligibility
Those who know they are at a higher-risk for developing mesothelioma, including anyone who worked or lived around asbestos-made materials during the greater part of the last century, should consider getting regular screenings for mesothelioma-like abnormalities-even before symptoms become present. Because mesothelioma is a latent disease-usually affecting its victims for years before symptoms are experienced-more often than not, getting a mesothelioma diagnosis after symptom-onset is too late.
Screening tests for mesothelioma usually include a chest x-ray and pulmonary function test, which can be performed at most any major hospital or medical center around the country. While these tests do not confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, they do identify those with suspected cases, who are then referred for a confirmative biopsy.
Veterans at risk for mesothelioma are eligible to receive routine medical screenings for asbestos-related illnesses at VA Hospitals and medical centers, which are located around the country. Affected vets should contact the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for more information.